When Steve and Lynette Mathis decided to get out of California it didn't matter where they went, they were open to finding a new home “almost literally anywhere.”
Crisscrossing the country looking for the perfect spot, they gave Oklahoma City a quick visit — after all, Steve had graduated from John Marshall High School and his mother lived in Shawnee.
But other places caught their interest — maybe Maine, maybe New Mexico. So the Mathises kept looking.
It was during a high school reunion in 2011 that Steve ran into his “old debate partner,” Oklahoma City attorney and California boomeranger Jay Shanker, who encouraged Mathis to take another look at the renaissance under way in their hometown.
The Mathises checked out an open house in Mesta Park and soon began their Oklahoma City home search in earnest.
The 1907 classic American Foursquare home the Mathises eventually bought at 819 NW 16 is one of six on this year's Mesta Park Holiday Home Tour.
The annual event begins with a candlelight tour Saturday, Dec. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m. and continues with an afternoon tour the next day from 1 to 5 p.m.
Steve Mathis, who turned a history degree from the University of Oklahoma into a feature film production career in Hollywood, said he thought he was leaving Oklahoma for good when he set off for Southern California in the 1970s.
His ties to Los Angeles deepened. He and his wife raised two children in the area. But eventually, he said, it was time “to look for a place to leave L.A. for.”
Lynette Mathis said the property they bought “was a mess,” but they knew they had found the project they were looking for.
Steve, who built a career as a gaffer (an electrician in charge of lighting), was working in New Orleans on the recent release “Ender's Game” while flying in and out of Oklahoma City on weekends.
“We remodeled long distance,” Lynette said.
Teaming with contractor Jerry Dickson, the Mathises re-allocated space in the main living areas, recreated the master suite, and re-imagined the overall flow of the home.
Downstairs, original hardwood floors were stripped and refinished so that they gleam like new.
In the kitchen, the Mathises installed new cabinetry, new flooring and new appliances, eliminating a “cramped” flow while discovering a new breakfast nook and shelving.